A movement to encourage and enable elementary school children to safely walk and ride bicycles to school is catching on in the Granite State, and the NH Department of Transportation (NHDOT) encourages more communities to get involved. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) helps communities by reimbursing them for the costs of bringing new balance to our transportation system.
A growing number of leaders at the local level are recognizing that getting kids outside and active is one way to counteract a sedentary lifestyle. In recent decades, the use of private motor vehicles for getting kids to school has increased dramatically. There has been a corresponding decline in the number of students walking or riding bicycles to school. Getting stuck in a school-zone traffic jam tends to raise the blood pressure instead of the heart rate. It’s not healthy for kids or drivers. It wastes time, contributes to an epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity, burns expensive fuel, and pollutes the air.
SRTS is designed for children from kindergarten through eighth grade, including those with disabilities, who live within approximately two miles of school.
Schools interested in the program should begin the planning and organizing effort as soon as possible. Successful SRTS programs rely on close cooperation among school and municipal leaders, parents, children, and organizations and individuals dedicated to improving their communities and promoting safe bicycling and walking. Visit our Getting Started page for some useful tools and guidance, and contact the coordinator to set up a meeting with a local task force.
Schools should consider using the in-class and parental survey forms (also available on our Getting Started page) to begin the evaluation process. Although reimbursement funding for this effort will not be available for communities that have not yet been awarded grants, the data can support an application in future rounds.
John W. Corrigan, Coordinator
Safe Routes to School